Ticks are a common sight in New Jersey, especially during the warmer months of the year. These tiny parasites are known to transmit diseases, making them a significant concern for public health. With the rise of outdoor activities like hiking and camping, it’s important to understand the risks associated with ticks and take necessary precautions to avoid exposure.
Common ticks found in New Jersey include the black-legged “deer” tick, the Lone Star tick, and the dog tick. While ticks can carry various diseases, the most common is Lyme disease, carried by deer ticks. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria spread to humans through a tick bite.
Ticks like dark, damp areas such as long grass and brush and are often carried by animals such as pets. When activities include environments with high tick exposure, you can reduce your risk in several ways:
- Dress in light-colored, long-sleeve clothes. Tuck pants in socks to avoid ticks crawling into clothing gaps.
- Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent, ideally with at least 20% DEET and treat clothing (or buy pre-treated clothing) with permethrin.
- Limit outdoor recreation to sunlit areas away from the woods.
- Shower as soon as possible after engaging in high tick-risk activities
- Place clothes in a hot dryer for at least 10 minutes before washing to kill ticks.
- Perform a tick check after being outdoors. Be sure to check in crevices such as elbows, behind the ears, between the legs, behind the knees, in hair, etc.
If you find an attached tick:
- Remove only with fine-point tweezers.
- Grasp the tick by the head, as close to the skin as possible, and pull the tick straight out with constant force.
- Wash the skin with rubbing alcohol or soap and water and save the tick in rubbing alcohol in a sealed plastic bag or container in case you need to show a doctor.
- Know that a tick must be attached for 36-48 hours to transmit most diseases.
- Be on the lookout for a rash or flu-like symptoms that appear within 3-30 days. If you notice either of these or other signs, contact your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.
- If you find a deer tick that has been attached for at least 36 hours, consult your health care provider.
It is also important to take preventive measures for pets, such as using tick collars or applying tick medication and checking them for ticks after they have been outside.
For more information on ticks, Lyme disease, and other vector-borne illnesses, please visit:
Take care and be well,